As single adult numbers surge, what does that mean for congregations?
Jeff Brumley Baptist News

Jeff Brumley Baptist News

Churches may want to take a hard look at what they’re offering young, single adults — and then boost it.

“Many churches are built around a family model,” Roxanne Stone, editor and chief of the Barna Group, said in remarks published with a survey about romance and relationships.

“They are most comfortable ministering to families and have developed an infrastructure to support couples and children,” she said.

But research shows that a lot more energy needs to be expended on young, single adults.

While the percentage of people who are married or divorced as remained steady since 2000, singles have increased in that time by 27 percent to 30 percent of adults, Barna said in a study titled “The Trends Redefining Romance Today.”

“This uptick is the big story here, and it only gets more pronounced when looking closely at the trends within the different age groups,” Barna said in a summary of its research published online.

More eye-openers include some of the attitudes and patterns around dating and cohabitation uncovered in the data.

Some of it is not surprising.

“But the state of romance — the reasons and mechanics for how we date, the when and why of getting married, the places we find love — has changed dramatically in a very short period of time,” Stone said in remarks included with the study.

Marriage and divorce rates have remained somewhat steady since 2000. The percentage of adults who are married has remained at 52 percent. Those currently divorced hovers around 10 percent.

“Because of the reality of re-marriage, the currently divorced rate does not take into account past divorce, which, when accounted for, brings the proportion of American adults who have ever been divorced to one-quarter,” which is also steady since 2000, Barna said.

The trends are similar in some ways among people of faith — though there are some differences.

“The difference — and it is a significant one — is that practicing Christians and evangelicals are much more likely to be married than the average American,” Barna reported.

Nearly 59 percent of practicing Christians are married – a ratio that has remained steady since 2000.

“This is even more pronounced among evangelicals, 67 percent of whom are married, 15 percent higher than the general population,” researchers found.

But there is at least one significant statistic that both practicing Christians and evangelicals share with other Americans, Barna found.

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